Does Size Really Matter?

Posted on May 1, 2018



Beards, Spurs, Fish Tales & Tall Tines Combined ~ All relative to the entire outdoor experience.



Ended my season tonight; bird #1 was 19 lbs., 9 1/2-inch beard and 1-inch spurs, bird #2 was 20 lbs., 10-inch beard and 1 1/8-inch spurs!

Two birds for the price of one, 40-yard shot, had to finish one of them off. 21 & 18 lbs. with 1” spurs. Good day.

Finally, one left the hens to dance, 18.7 pounds, 9-inch beard, 7/8 spurs.

So and so got ‘his’ turkey yesterday.

It was lights out at 30 yards distance. 20 lbs., 8 1/4″ beard with a lot of beard rot. Probably a little longer had this not occurred.

First turkey. 17.2 pounds, 8″ beard, 3/4″ spurs.

20 pounds, 1-inch spurs, 8-inch beard. Finally got out this year for a serious hunt. Time and availability have been scarce.

Big Boy Down!! 21 lbs., 9″ beard with 1 ½-inch spurs.

Tagged out in (State). 19 pounds, 7-inch beard, 7/8-inch spurs, time to go fishing.

My first double beard. 18 pounds, 9 inches and 5-inch beards with ¾ inch worn out spurs.

Pouring rain with gusting winds; he never gobbled…. He gone!! Another fine long beard with a free truck ride!



These are just a sampling of the routine posts found during the annual turkey hunting season. Understand, the exact same tact is used throughout deer, bear and fishing seasons as well. All the above gleanings were penned by male hunters, which are much different than those typically scribed by female turkey hunters as evidenced below,

This is what it’s all about. Patience pays off…

Go afield with a good attitude, with respect for the wildlife you hunt and for the forest and fields in which you walk. Immerse yourself in the outdoor experience. It will cleanse your soul and make you a better person. – Fred Bear

Patience, Perseverance, Persistence.

Shot one, lol…
And then there are the occasional bullet points that hope to gain even more attention with headlines reading like this…



North Carolina has a potential record setting

A potential record setting turkey has been shot in North Carolina and is quickly spreading across the internet. It was shot in Macon County and had a record contending single spur.
It measured a whopping 2.5″
This is what the original post stated,
“Potential world record single spur length! Killed in Macon County NC!
Left Spur 2.5″
Right Spur 1.5″”

What is it that drives someone to want to only shoot the biggest birds, bucks, bears, etc.? And, when they fail to accomplish this, or take something smaller such as a jake, spike, or juvenile specimen; why is that same person either embarrassed, make excuses, apologize, and/or become aloof? Yet, their demeanor does a 180 once they shoot the next brag-worthy critter. Why; what motivates one to desire this? Attention? Pride? The need to feel like they are special or better than all the rest?

In large, no pun intended, we dwell within a very competitive, visual, goal-oriented culture that has for too long glorified the end result over the entire process. In simplistic layman’s terms, the bigger, the better.



While I can justifiably understand the exuberance, excitement and triumphant feeling that comes with succeeding, especially following a daunting hunt; I can fully appreciate someone wanting to share their success as I do it myself. However, what is troubling is the self-glorification utilized in far too many instances. And what is even more revealing is when the stereotypical braggart becomes suddenly mute when the desired results are not met.

We must, if we are to be honest with ourselves, admit that hunting is an act of grace. Although we can control our own thoughts, actions, and level of savvy; how that bird, bear or buck reacts is completely out of our control. While we can elect not to terminate the life of the critter before our weapon, we cannot force a record setter to be within target range.



On a personal level, I’ve reached the place in life where typically I hunt for only mature specimens. But, despite this, unforeseeable circumstances and conditions can and do occur, and often become the deciding factor whether or not to pull the trigger on something smaller. This, may I add, has nothing to do with having to bring something dead home.

For example, two years ago while on an especially arduous moose hunt spent with four comrades, it came down to Friday afternoon without a moose being spilt to the ground. And then, under the most unlikely conditions, a 1 ½ year-old bull responded to the call by trotting in on a string. Everyone in the group was thrilled including myself that I decided to shoot.



The following Spring, I elected to shoot two jakes. Why? Because I was able to do what I’d never done, shoot them both with a single shot. Circumstance.



In between these two hunts I was blessed to shoot the heaviest buck to date, a behemoth that tipped the scales at 270 pounds dressed. The take away from these three experiences was an equal level of respect for the game, gratitude for the opportunity, and fulfillment in the accomplishment.



In retrospect, our accomplishments are and should always be in direct result to the investment put forth and admiration for the object overcome. But that is and never will be a guarantee of record setting specimens, nor a verdict on one’s personal hunting prowess.

We should never ever feel the need to apologize for the size of the game we kill any more than we should be comparing our harvests with those of someone else. Hunting is personal fulfillment, not a contest built upon comparatives. Opportunities are derived from insight, work, patience and good fortune, just to name a few; not because of ego-driven domination. In reality, the only folks that are impressed with braggadocios highlights are those who are like-minded. The rest of the hunting community know full well the reality of the entire process and results.



Please don’t take this as an indictment but rather a reminder as to why we do what we do. After all we are nature’s invited guest entwined in the oldest of all activities, hunting. And so, fittingly, I will leave you with this; one of the most fulfilling turkey hunts of my life.

Every other day for five weeks I arose at an hour that was painful, all in a concerted effort to put a long beard in front of my dad’s gun. Between uncooperative birds and weather, Pop being overly selective and he not heeding his son’s advice to shoot (I guess that would be a lot to expect), it was down to the last morning of the final day.

There was a specific bird that until today had eluded even my most alluring vocalizations. When he appeared, I knew it was him and thought if only he would follow the two hens… but if only isn’t much to bank on. But onward he came like every other male that’s ever been lured by the seduction of a female.

I provided just enough soft purrs to keep the ladies on course, and once the suiter cleared the last obstacle, I instructed Pop to shoot. And then as the bird began running away, to shoot again.

An entire season was wrapped up in this bird, a bird that was identifiable due to a beard that was as long as it was wide, 1” x 1” as it broke off during the cold of winter. So, in terms of what mattered most, it was not length of beard, perfect fan or dagger spurs; it was the shared effort put forth right to the very end that made this hunt so special.



Does size matter? Sure, it does, for record keepers, the superficial and any who may need extra attention. For the rest of us, we’ll continue to take what comes our way and be grateful for the gift, the experience, and the opportunity.


All images and text on this site are copyright protected and the property of R.G. Bernier
© 2018 R.G. Bernier Nature Photography – All rights reserved.


Posted in: Turkey